Where to Find the Country's Very Best Fishing Spots, Including One of Martha's Favorites

martha fly fishing idaho
Matthew Hranek

Our founder, Martha Stewart, began fly-fishing while a junior high school student. She remembers the excitement on opening day of trout season near her home in Nutley, New Jersey. "We'd wake at 3 a.m., jump on our Schwinns, and bicycle miles toward the mountains," as she described in her Remembering column from the June 2002 issue of Living. She and her older brother, Eric, spent hours casting their handmade flies in the Musconetcong River, hoping for a strike. And she has been fly-fishing ever since. "I love standing in moving water in a beautiful place with nothing to bother you but the fish," she said. "Fly-fishing is such an elegant sport, done in the company of friends."

No matter where you live, you can find a good fishing spot. Fly-fishers practice the sport in virtually every type of water—river and ocean, salt and fresh—and for nearly every species of game fish. The artificial flies they use as lures vary depending on the area, the weather, the fish, the time of year, and a multitude of other factors. Artful technique is required to cast the flies so they skim the water like a winged insect, float below the surface like a larva, or mimic the movement of a minnow. Trout, salmon, bonefish, and striped bass are all for the reeling, and, as Martha once said, "The quiet, the peace, the solitude, and the opportunity to be out in nature are as good as it gets!"

Ready to cast your line? Embark on one of these excursions.

01 of 10

Musconetcong River in New Jersey

musconetcong river new jersey
Ray Skwire / Getty Images

Ask any fisherman (or fisherwoman), and they'll tell you that springtime is the prime season for catching an abundance of trout. This 45.7-mile-long tributary is stocked seasonally with trout and other species, including large-mouth bass​, striped bass, sunfish, and catfish. Plus, it's where Martha herself learned to fly-fish and fell in love with the sport.

02 of 10

Bighorn River in Wyoming and Montana

An angler cast to rising brown trout feeding on black caddis as the sun set over the Bighorn River in eastern Montana.
Dennis Anderson/Star Tribune via Getty Images

For trout enthusiasts, this river is considered to be one of the best in the country for fishing. It's a tributary of the Yellowstone, approximately 461 miles long, although trout fishing is generally localized to the first 13 miles below the dam. In this region, Afterbay Dam regulates the river's flow and irrigation only has a minimal impact. As such, the Bighorn River almost always flows steady, clear, and cool—ideal conditions for a day of fishing.

03 of 10

Lake Fork Reservoir in Texas


Catch at least five different species of fish along Lake Fork: largemouth bass, white and black crappie, channel catfish, white bass, and sunfish. Large numbers of fish can be caught from around the submerged trees and brush piles from deep waters near the dam, depending on the time of year. But be aware of special fishing regulations when you go; there are limits to what you are allowed to catch.

04 of 10

Williwaw Creek in Alaska

Courtesy of Alaska.org

The remote northwest state of Alaska famously offers plenty of areas for great fishing, but if you are looking to catch some salmon, then Williwaw Creek is an ideal spot to go. In the late summer, sockeye, chum, and coho salmon all arrive and remain through early fall. Nature trails and a handicap-accessible platform make this a great area simply to enjoy nature—and spot local songbirds, bald eagles, or the occasional bear—as well.

05 of 10

Florida Bay in Florida

Casting in Everglades National Park, Florida.
Joe Klementovich / Getty Images

This spot in the Florida Keys offers sun, surf, and game fishing. All year round, you can catch different species such as redfish, snook, bonefish, and tarpon (which is sometimes called the "Silver King" of sport fish and highly prized for both its grand size and fighting ability).

06 of 10

Green River in Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado

driftboats green river utah
Thomas Jackson / Getty Images

Aptly named for its clear, emerald waters, the Green River flows across 730 miles through a scenic, steep-walled canyon. It supports a large population of trout—rainbows are most common just below the dam and browns are more commonly found downstream. Fishing is restricted to artificial flies or lures; catch-and-release is highly encouraged but limited harvest is permitted.

07 of 10

Lake St. Clair in Michigan

Kayak fishing in Lake St. Clair
TracieMichelle / Getty Images

This lake has an abundance of fish with the most sought-after species being walleye and yellow perch; they thrive here due to the stained water (meaning the water has browned color to it, a byproduct of nature's fermentation system of peaty soil and decaying plant life), which is preferred by these species.

08 of 10

Chesapeake Bay in Maryland

Boats Docked in a Small Coastal Community along the Chesapeake Bay, Tangier Sound
Cyndi Monaghan

Catch fish and crab along the beautiful shoreline of Chesapeake Bay—flounder, bluefish and redfish, Spanish mackerel, cobia, and striped bass; the latter—with its large, gaping bucket of a mouth and brilliant stripes—is the official state fish of Maryland and the state saltwater fish of Virginia.

09 of 10

Lake Erie in Ohio

Lake Erie Fisherman at Sunset
Christopher Roth / Getty Images

Recent reports show that there is a record number of walleye fish available in these waters. You can bring your own boat or rent one on the islands, then spend a day fishing and soaking up the spring and summer sun.

10 of 10

Columbia River in Oregon and Washington

fishing boat columbia river washington
LoweStock / Getty Images

This expansive 1,243-mile long river has several hidden hotspots for catching salmon from a boat or along the shoreline. Most fishing in this river is done by boat but the various parks offer plenty of ways to fish from the river banks.

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